An impasse between California and the Trump administration over the president’s demand for National Guard at the border ended Wednesday night with a deal to mobilize troops on condition they have nothing to do with immigration enforcement or a border wall.
Gov. Jerry Brown announced that he would mobilize 400 California guardsmen at least through Sept. 30.
But on Thursday, President Donald Trump [accused] Brown of sending troops to “do nothing” because of the limits the governor put in place on what his guardsmen could do.
“The Federal Government will not be paying for Governor Brown’s charade,” he asserted.
Thursday afternoon, California officials said they’d checked with the Pentagon and gotten confirmation that – regardless of the president’s objections and bluster — the Pentagon would honor the agreement announced a day earlier and would, in fact, defray costs of the deployment.
On Monday, the nation’s Border Patrol chief said that Brown had so far rejected President Donald Trump’s request for troops — an assertion that Brown aides and the state’s National Guard insisted was untrue. In their view, it was federal authorities who had so far refused to agree to limits Brown set forth two weeks ago.
The mobilization order he issued Wednesday tracks those limits:
“California National Guard service members shall not engage in any direct law enforcement role nor enforce immigration laws, arrest people for immigration law violations, guard people taken into custody for alleged immigration violations, or support immigration law enforcement activities. California National Guard service members shall not participate in the construction of any new border barrier,” the order reads.
The Brown and Trump administrations have clashed in court over immigration policy. Trump has bashed the governor on Twitter in recent days for resisting the border deployment, which is meant to free Border Patrol assets and also put pressure on Congress to fund a wall.
“Looks like Jerry Brown and California are not looking for safety and security along their very porous Border,” the president tweeted on Tuesday. “He cannot come to terms for the National Guard to patrol and protect the Border. The high crime rate will only get higher. Much wanted Wall in San Diego already started!”
Trump announced earlier this month that he will send 2,000 to 4,000 National Guard to US-Mexico border until Congress provides enough money to build a border wall.
Republican governors in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona quickly stepped up. Gov. Greg Abbott has sent about 650 Texas troops in the first week of the operation. Fewer than a thousand have been deployed so far.
But Brown had held out, insisting on assurances that no California troops will be used either for immigration enforcement or to build a wall.
Roughly 700 miles of the 2,000 mile frontier is already fenced but Trump has deemed all or most of that barrier insufficient. He said recently that he wants new construction – taller and more sturdy – along as much as 800 miles.
Brown aides and state National Guard officials insisted that California had not refused the federal request for troops.
They pointed to parameters the governor laid out after Trump’s announcement. In a letter to the secretaries of defense and homeland security, Brown makes it clear that California would provide troops to combat drug and weapons smuggling and human trafficking only, but not to assist with immigration enforcement.
The federal government pays for guard deployments, but troops remain under the command of their respective state governors. President George W. Bush deployed the National Guard to the border in 2006 for a two-year mission.
President Barack Obama sent the guard in 2010.
California already has 55 guard troops at the border.
Brown faced pressure from immigration hardliners such as Rep. Darrel Issa, R-Calif.
“I call on Gov. Brown to join the other border state governors in listening to the needs of our border agents rather than the wishes of open-border extremists,” Issa said Tuesday.
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